Comcast has been testing internet data caps in some markets since 2012 and has been slowly rolling them out across the nation. On October 1, they're coming to South Florida.
For Comcast customers on the most common plans, that means if you use any more data than 300 GB a month, you'll end up paying $10 extra for every 50 GB you use above that. The high-speed GigaPro service and business customers will remain unaffected.
However, the new aspect of the caps in the South Florida area, which will affect customers in Miami-Dade, Broward, and the Keys, is that you can pay an extra fee of $30 every month, dubbed the "Unlimited Data Option," to avoid getting charged the $10 fees.
Comcast has surveyed customers in other areas where it has imposed caps if they would pay an extra fee to avoid being penalized. Customer research indicated they would, hence the trial in South Florida. Comcast will notify users when they're coming up on 90 percent of their limit, and users can more closely monitor their data usage through Comcast's website.
Of course, the unlimited data option would make economic sense only to those using more than 450 GB a month.
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Comcast tells the Miami Herald that people who use that much data are rare and that 92 percent of customers probably won't see any changes to their bill. In fact, Comcast claims about 70 percent of its customers use less than 100 GB a month, which is probably true if you're just using your computer to check email and Facebook.
But customers who regularly stream shows online may find they'll hit the cap more often than others. According to Gizmodo, streaming a Netflix show at the highest resolution of 1080p uses up about 4.7 GB per hour. So only 63 hours of Netflix a month could blow out your cap.
Several streaming services are also beginning to support ultra-high-definition 4K videos. Just three movies in the 4K format could eat up your entire gigabit budget. Online gamers could also find themselves coming up quickly against the cap.